Networks, Genres, and Complex Wholes: Citizen Science and How We Act Together through Typified Text




Rhetorical theory, Genre theory, Actor-network theory


This article explores the intersection of Rhetorical Genre Studies (RGS) and Actor-Network Theory (ANT). These two traditions are particularly important in the Canadian research context. We examine genre and ANT to uncover what we believe is a complementary relationship that promises much to the study of science, especially in the age of the internet. Specifically, we see RGS as a way to account for how objects come to “be” as complex wholes and so act across/among levels of network configurations. Moreover, the nature of these objects’ (instruments’) action is such that we may attribute them to a kind of rhetorical agency. We look to the InFORM Network’s grassroots, citizen science-oriented response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster as a case that exemplifies how a combined RGS and ANT perspective can articulate the complex wholes of material/rhetorical networks.

Cet article examine Rhetorical Genre Studies (RGS) et Actor-Network Theory (ANT). Ces deux modes d’étude sont importants dans les contextes de la recherche Canadienne. Nous prennons genre et ANT, pour retrouver une perspective que nous croyons puisse contribuer beaucoup aux études de la science dans l’âge de l’internet. On comprend les genres de textes comme une moyenne de rendre compte de la façon dont les objets deviennent des ensembles complexes et donc agir entre les différents niveaux de configuration réseau. En plus, la nature des actions de ces objets (ou instruments scientifique) est telle qu’on puisse attribuer a eux une sorte d’agence rhétorique. Nous voyons le citizen science reponse de l’InFORM Network a la disastre au Fukushima Daiichi comme une example de la puissance d’un perspectif RGS/ANT pour articuler les “entieres-complexes” des networks qui sont material/rhetorical au meme temps.

Author Biography

Ashley Rose Kelly, University of Waterloo

Dr. Ashley Rose Kelly is an assistant professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Waterloo. She was previously a faculty member in the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University. Kelly’s research examines how science communication is changing with new—especially networked—technologies and also with different communities becoming involved in scientific research. The objective of this research is to understand how different systems interact to include or exclude different stakeholder voices, and then to apply this work by providing alternatives for more inclusive approaches to scientific research and policy-making. Her research is especially concerned with public participation in scientific research (citizen science), expertise and ethos in grassroots scientific research, expertise and expert networks, and biohacking and hacker participation in scientific research. Broadly, her research engages science communication, environmental communication, risk communication, science studies, and rhetoric of science and technology.